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Winemaking 101

Vinification is the transformation of grapes into wine and this
process begins as soon as the grapes reach the winery and
ends when fermentation is complete.

The timeframe for vinification to occur differs depending on
the type of wine and the fermentation process that is
selected. The process can take from a week to three months.
Wine Making 101 - Vinification
The vinification process is different for white and red wines. However, since the majority of wine made at
LDV Winery is red wine following is the typical vinification process.

Initial Processing

As soon as the grapes reach the winery, they are put in a destemmer that removes the whole berries from stems.
The whole berries are pumped into the fermentation vessel. The grape juice mixture is called "must".

At this point the winemaker makes a decision about any
additional processing prior to fermentation. For example,
some must could be cold soaked to extract flavor and delay
natural fermentation or a decision might be made to start
fermentation immediately.
Winemaking 101 - Initial Process

Fermentation – Red wine grapes ferment in contact with
the skins which give the wine its color, tannins, and flavor.
After initial processing, the must may be allowed to begin a
natural fermentation process initiated by the native yeast
(those occurring naturally on the grape skins at harvest
times). Conversely, the winemaker may choose to inoculate with cultured yeast to begin the fermentation process. Different types of yeast will result in different characteristics in the finished wine.
Winemaking 101 - Fermentation

There is considerable debate among winemakers about the use of native yeasts versus specifically selected pure
yeast strains which are added to the grape must.

At LDV Winery we select specific yeast to complement each grape varietal and sugar content at
harvest. The purpose of the yeast is to convert sugar molecules into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

During fermentation, carbon dioxide is released creating a “cap” comprised of the solids (skins, seeds, and pulp) that
rise to the top of the fermentation vessel. Several times per day at LDV Winery, we hand “punch down” the cap which basically submerges it into the juice. The fermentation of the must continues until the winemaker determines the desired sugar and alcohol level. The winemaker watches this process closely and may determine to extend the maceration (continued contact of the juice with the solids) process past the time fermentation ends in order to extract maximum color, flavor, and tannins.

During the fermentation process the solids separate from the juice and the resulting juice is call “free run.” Once this
process is complete, the free run is removed from the fermentation vessel and goes directly into barrels or holding
tanks. The remaining must is then removed from the fermentation vessel and goes through the wine pressing process
to extract the remaining juice. This juice is called “press wine.” The remaining solids are called the “cake” and are
removed from the press and composted.


Choosing the type of barrel in which to age the wine is
based on the winemaker’s vision for the wine. The wood of
the barrel contributes to the wine’s aroma, flavor, and
texture. The newer the barrel the more flavor.

Every year a barrel is in use it loses its ability to impact
the wine’s characteristics. After the third year, a barrel is
considered neutral because it no longer can contribute to
the wine’s attributes.
Winemaking 101 - Barrels

At LDV Winery we use both American and French oak barrels. Additionally, we use a variety of “toast” levels depending on the desired characteristics we want to impart in the wine.

Toasting is the burning of the inside of the oak barrel the cooper does during the construction of the barrel. When
purchasing the barrel, we choose the type of barrel and level of toast. Generally higher the toast values the more
intense the components the barrel will impart into the wine.

Barrel Aging – The majority of the world’s wine is consumed within a few years of its vintage date. However, barrel
aging is still very important. Red wines can spend anywhere from a few months to several years in the barrel.
Barrel aging allows the tannins to soften and the fruit flavor of the wine to emerge.

It is important that the aging process occur in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature.
LDV Winerys’ 1700 square foot barrel room is temperature controlled at 59° F.


The art of wine blending is the mastery of the winemaker. Much of the wine we
drink is not 100 percent one varietal without other wines blended into it. The winemaker uses blending to impact the flavor, aroma, color, and body of the
finished wine.

Have you had a California Cabernet Sauvignon? It probably had Merlot, Cabernet
Franc, or Petite Verdot in it (or all three) and you didn’t even know it!

Listed on many wine labels is a varietal designation that indicates the name of
the dominant grapes used in the wine. Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and
Grenache are examples of varietal designations. Information on wine labels is
regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
Winemaking 101 - Blending

For this discussion, we are talking about wines made in the U.S. Wines made elsewhere have a different labeling
system and requirements. According to the TTB, a wine’s varietal designation indicates that at least 75 percent of
the grapes used to make the wine are of the varietal identified. The label does not have to include information
about what types of varietals might have been blended into the wine. Therefore, if a wine label reads Syrah, it tells
you that at least 75 percent of the varietal Syrah was used to make the wine. If a wine is less than 75 percent one
varietal, it must be labeled “Red Wine” or “White Wine.”

Our philosophy at LDV Winery is to always tell you what grapes are in the finished wine and what
type of aging vessel was used. We think this is vital information for you to have to train your nose and palette to
identify different characteristics in a wine – things you like and things you don’t! We also use blending to enhance
your food experience, since it’s all about the food.

Blending allows the winemaker to pick and choose from different barrels of the same varietal or to blend in a different
varietal to achieve or enhance desired characteristics of the final wine. Usually the blending process occurs once the
various wines are made and have aged. It does not typically occur during the fermentation process although this
may occur at other wineries.

Here are some examples of blending and how important it is to the wine you enjoy.

Our 2008 Syrah is 97 percent Syrah and 3 percent Grenache. 3 percent doesn’t seem like it would make much of a
difference – but it does!

The 2009 Grenache is 90 percent Grenache and 10 percent Petite Sirah. We added the Petite Sirah to enhance the color and bring a darker fruit (blackberries) component to the lively Grenache raspberry and cherry characteristics.
This added complexity and body to the wine allows it to sail across your palette. This wine provides another example of barrel blending. We used some Grenache aged in new French oak and some aged in neutral oak for this wine to obtain just the right balance of oak and spice provided by the wood.

Our 2009 Sky Island Petite Sirah contains 24 percent Grenache. We brought in the Grenache to lighten the body of
the wine slightly and enhance it with lighter fruit notes. While our 2009 Petite Sirah (100 percent!) was made to be enjoyed with grilled red meats and bold flavors, we wanted to create a lighter version that would be great with pizza,
chocolate, and mild cheeses.

Is blending artistry or magic? We are not certain. We just want to make wines that taste, smell, look, and feel good in your mouth every time, every sip.

Finishing the Wine

There is an expectation by consumers and lovers of wine
that when they open that special bottle of wine it is clear
and free of particles.

Since we use all of our senses while enjoying a wine, the
look of the finished product is very important. Most wines
go through some sort of clarification process before they
are finished. It is important to ensure that any solids are
removed from the wine so that they do not decompose
and spoil the wine.
Winemaking 101 - Finishing

The various methods for clarification differ in how much time it takes to complete the task. Some are very labor
intensive and time consuming while others are intended to move large quantities of wine through a clarification
process in a short amount of time. It is also said that the various techniques may have an impact on the final
character of the wine.

The typical clarification techniques used today include:
  • Racking which is moving the wine from one container to the next to separate the wine from the solids
    that have fallen to the bottom of the container.
  • Fining which adds some type of agent that will cause the solids to come together and therefore become heavy and fall to the bottom of the container. Then the wine would be racked off the sediment. Fining agents might include proteins such as egg whites and gelatin.
  • Refrigeration or cold stabilization encourages the solid materials to sink to the bottom of the container.
    Like the previous technique, the wine is racked off the sediment.
  • Filtration is a faster clarification technique which pumps the wine through a serious of cellulose pads.
    Some winemakers are concerned that this technique reduces the wine’s color and flavor characteristics.
  • Centrifuge is the fastest and most efficient clarification technique. As the wine is spun at a high rate of speed any solids in the wine are removed. But similar to the filtration process, some critics believe this technique also impacts the wine’s color and flavor characteristics.
You may see “Unfined” and/or “Unfiltered” on a bottle of wine indicating that the winemaker felt it was important to
point out the fact that this type of process was not used to clarify the wine. In this case there may be a bit of
sediment at the bottom of the bottle that the winemaker has deemed acceptable.

To maintain the characteristics of the wine we recommend decanting unfined or unfiltered wines to ensure any
sediment that may be left in the bottle does not end up in your glass. Since LDV Winery focuses
on hand-crafted, small lot wines, it is our approach to minimally handle our wines so we only fine or filter when absolutely necessary. However, we will always disclose how the wine has been processed on our labels.

Bottle Aging

Once a LDV Winery’ red wine is bottled, it is aged in the bottle before it is ready to be released.

The amount of time that the bottle is aged depends on the type of wine and the
winemaker’s vision for the final product. It can also be done to minimize “bottle
shock” that can occur as a result of the wine being transferred from the barrel to
the bottle.

Bottle shock can temporarily mask the wine’s flavor characteristics. After each
bottling and prior to release, LDV Winery wines are periodically sampled to determine their drinkability.
Winemaking 101 - Bottle Aging

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